SPRINGFIELD, Va. (November 16, 2001) – In response to a multi-union lawsuit, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation today announced it will devote “all resources necessary” to defend the will of Oklahoma workers and taxpayers who recently enacted the nation’s 22nd Right to Work law.
Attempting to overturn long-established legal precedents affirming the constitutionality of state Right to Work laws, union officials filed suit against Governor Frank Keating and the State of Oklahoma in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, demanding that the Sooner State’s Right to Work law be struck down as unconstitutional.
“Stung by the loss of their ability to rip forced union dues from the paychecks of hardworking Oklahomans, union bosses are resorting to cynical legal maneuvers in an attempt to get revenge against Oklahoma’s voters,” said National Right to Work Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason. “We are prepared to devote all resources necessary to defending Oklahoma’s Right to Work law from union attack.”
Oklahoma became the nation’s 22nd Right to Work state after voters approved State Question 695, a constitutional amendment making it illegal for union officials to force workers to join a union or pay any union dues as a condition of employment. Instead of having the power to get workers fired for not supporting a union, union officials must now earn their support.
Not only does Oklahoma’s new Right to Work measure protect employee freedom, it also promotes economic growth and the creation of new jobs.
In filing the lawsuit, union lawyers apparently dusted off long-dead legal arguments that state Right to Work laws violate the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the National Labor Relations Act. Those arguments were rejected by the United States Supreme Court in two 1949 cases, Lincoln Federal Labor Union v. Northwestern Iron & Metal Company and Algoma Plywood Co. v. Wisconsin Board. In Algoma, the High Court upheld states’ ability to pass Right to Work laws even before Section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act was passed by Congress in 1947. Section 14(b) explicitly reaffirmed that ability.
Oklahoma union officials made the same spurious arguments in television ads aired just days before the election. The lawsuit appears to be a face-saving maneuver to show that the unions actually believe their own rhetoric.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 8, 2001) – In a ruling that is likely to be appealed, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia struck down a pro-worker Executive Order signed by President George W. Bush that banned union-only contracts, or project labor agreements (PLAs), on federally funded construction projects.
Judge Emmet G. Sullivan issued the dramatic ruling yesterday, marking the first Executive Order of Bush that has been struck down.
“PLAs amount to extortion – union officials demand taxpayer handouts and government-granted special privileges in exchange for not ordering strikes or causing other disruptions,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation.
“This ruling protects a scheme that bilks taxpayers out of millions of dollars and deprives employees of their basic right to choose whether or not to affiliate with a union.”
Under union-only PLAs, contracts on government-funded construction projects are awarded exclusively to contractors who agree to force compulsory unionism on their employees. PLAs usually require contractors to grant union officials monopoly bargaining privileges over all workers; force their employees to pay union dues; use exclusive union hiring halls; and pay above-market prices resulting from wasteful work rules and featherbedding.
The ruling could have a disastrous effect on the massive Wilson Bridge construction project on Interstate 495, as Maryland Governor Parris N. Glendening has vowed to use the controversial PLAs.
In their “Friend of the Court” brief at the trial court level, Foundation attorneys argued that President Bush acted within his constitutional authority by issuing Executive Order 13202 banning union-only contracts. If the Bush Administration appeals the court’s decision, Foundation attorneys stand ready to devote even more legal resources in defense of the order.
SPRINGFIELD, Va. (November 7, 2001) – The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation announced today that it has hired John R. Martin, a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law.
“John Martin brings even more firepower to our nationally recognized legal team,” said Ray LaJeunesse, Legal Director of the National Right to Work Foundation. “He has demonstrated a strong commitment to defending the rights of employees who suffer under forced unionism.”
Martin will help build on the Foundation’s successful litigation record on behalf of union-abused workers. Foundation attorneys have won several cases in the United States Supreme Court. The Foundation is currently assisting nearly 200,000 employees throughout the country.
Prior to joining the Foundation’s legal team, Martin clerked for the Office of the Independent Counsel, where he helped uncover and present details of the Whitewater investigation of President Bill Clinton. In addition, the attorney has worked for two other law firms and as a tax and budgetary policy analyst for Americans for Tax Reform.
Martin has authored articles that have appeared in the Texas Review of Law & Politics and Investor’s Business Daily.
He was admitted to the Texas Bar earlier this year.
FLINT, Mich. (November 5, 2001) – Hundreds of Brighton Interior Systems employees who union officials coerced into joining the United Auto Workers (UAW) union have won a settlement in an unfair labor practice case pending against the union that requires the revocation of all illegally obtained membership and dues deduction authorization cards.
The settlement of federal class-action charges, filed by Brighton employee Erik Daly with the National Labor Relations Board against UAW Local 599 and its International union parent, stipulates that all dues checkoff authorization/membership cards obtained at Brighton since August 5, 2001 are invalid. The union must start over, this time properly notifying employees of their rights and allowing them to make a voluntary decision about whether or not to join the union.
“This settlement forces UAW officers to account for their systematic bullying of Brighton workers,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which negotiated the settlement on behalf of the Brighton employees.
In violation of the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court decision Communications Workers v. Beck, UAW officials told employees they must join the union or “join the unemployment line.” Under Beck, union officials may not compel workers to become union members, or pay for politics and other activities unrelated to collective bargaining activities, under the threat of being fired from their jobs.
The original charges filed by Daly in August 2001 stated that the UAW “engaged in a campaign of misrepresentations, coercions, and omissions” such that “not a single employee in this bargaining unit can be considered to be a voluntary member.”
The settlement requires union officials to post notices informing all Brighton employees of their rights under Beck to refrain from union membership and the payment of full dues. The union’s notices state that “WE WILL NOT threaten employees of Brighton Interior Systems that they will be discharged” for not joining the union.
ORLANDO, Fla. (October 30, 2001) – After a federal agency ruled in his favor, a Lockheed Martin employee today filed suit against International Association of Machinists (IAM) union officials, who threatened to have him fired from his job for exercising his right to refrain from supporting the union on religious grounds.
With the help of National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, Robert Beers, who works in astronautics operations at Lockheed Martin’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station facility, filed the civil rights lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida against IAM Local 610.
“Machinists union bosses are arrogantly refusing to halt their harassment of this sincere conscientious objector,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.
Beers’ sincerely held religious beliefs prevented him from supporting the union’s militant ideological agenda, particularly its support for abortion and homosexuality, which he believes are forbidden by the Bible. He asserted his right as a religious objector under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to refrain from union activities and withhold the payment of union dues, offering instead to send his union dues to a mutually agreed-upon charity.
Union officials refused his request and wrote Beers they would have him fired from his job.
Beers filed religious discrimination charges against the union in the fall of 2000 with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC found in his favor and attempted to persuade the union’s officials to agree to a settlement. However, IAM Local 610’s lawyers thumbed their noses at the EEOC offer and continued to oppose Beers’ religious objection, forcing him to file suit in federal court.
Even though Florida has a Right to Work law allowing employees to cut off dues payments to unwanted unions, Cape Canaveral is considered a “federal enclave” subject to provisions in federal labor law granting union officials the power to collect union dues from non-religious objectors as a job condition.
Foundation attorneys are seeking a permanent injunction forcing IAM Local 610 officials to honor Beers’ religious objection and inform all bargaining unit employees of their right to divert forced union dues to a charity if their religious convictions prevent them from supporting the union. Beers is also asking for the return of illegally seized union dues, punitive and compensatory damages, and attorneys’ fees.
Springfield, Va. (October 16, 2001) – The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation announced today that it has hired William L. Messenger, a labor and employment attorney and a graduate of the George Washington University School of Law.
“Bill Messenger brings to our legal aid organization a real commitment to helping employees fight back against the evils of compulsory unionism,” said Ray LaJeunesse, Legal Director of the National Right to Work Foundation.
As a staff attorney, Messenger will help build on the Foundation’s successful litigation record on behalf of union-abused workers. The Foundation is currently assisting nearly 200,000 employees throughout the country.
Messenger has previously served as a law clerk for the National Association of Manufacturers and the Federal Election Commission’s Office of General Counsel. He has also been active in the Republican Party. He ran as a candidate for the Athens, Ohio, city council in 1995.
Messenger holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Ohio University.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. (October 3, 2001) – Two Los Angeles International Airport janitors yesterday won a monetary settlement against the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1877 in a federal case pending against the union as a result of its systematic refusal to honor the workers’ right to object to union membership and forced dues.
With the help of National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, the airport employees, Lidia Acevedo and Amarilis Barrientos-Sosa, forced SEIU Local 1877 officials to settle a pair of federal unfair labor practice charges filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against SEIU Local 1877 in March 2001. The NLRB complaint alleged that union officials were guilty of coercing nonmember workers into paying full membership dues.
“These courageous janitors stood up to union bosses’ illegal shake-down tactics,” said Randy Wanke, Director of Legal Information for the National Right to Work Foundation.
According to the settlement agreement, union officials must refund membership dues unlawfully deducted from the workers’ paychecks after they resigned their union memberships. Union officials must also post notices, in English and Spanish, informing all LAX janitors of their right to object to union membership and the payment of full dues.
Under the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court Communications Workers v. Beck decision, union objectors may halt and reclaim all union dues spent on politics and other activities unrelated to the union’s proven collective bargaining costs.
Foundation attorneys hope to soon force a settlement in another set of cases on behalf of Los Angeles janitors harassed by SEIU Local 1877 officials. During its so-called “Justice for Janitors” strike last year, the union hierarchy fined sixteen janitors up to $500 each for exercising their right to continue working during the strike.
Cleveland, Ohio (October 2, 2001) – An Ohio court of appeals has upheld an Ohio law limiting costly and discriminatory union-only contracts, called project labor agreements (PLAs), on state-funded construction projects. National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys filed a “Friend of the Court” brief in the case defending the law.
The Eighth District of the Ohio Court of Appeals ruled in Ohio State Building and Construction Trade Department v. Cuyahoga County Board of Commissioners that Ohio’s HB 101, the Open Contracting Act, does not violate the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The court’s decision overturned a lower court’s ruling striking down the law passed by the legislature in 1999.
“PLAs amount to extortion – union officials demand taxpayer handouts and government-granted special privileges in exchange for not ordering strikes or causing other disruptions,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This is a victory for Ohio taxpayers, workers, and job providers.”
Under union-only PLAs, union-friendly politicians award contracts on government-funded construction projects only to contractors who agree to force compulsory unionism on their employees. PLAs usually require contractors to grant union officials monopoly bargaining privileges over all workers; force their employees to pay union dues; use exclusive union hiring halls; and pay above-market prices resulting from wasteful work rules and featherbedding.
In a “Friend of the Court” brief, National Right to Work Foundation attorneys argued that HB 101 is not preempted by the NLRA because the Act protects the state’s right to decide whether or not to contract with unions. That argument was echoed in the court’s ruling.
Ohio’s state legislature passed HB 101 in 1999 after four union-only construction projects generated massive cost overruns. Union officials almost immediately challenged the new law in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, which issued an injunction stopping enforcement of the law. The appeals court ruling now clears the way for enforcement of the law.
Springfield, Va. (September 26, 2001) – Oklahoma became the nation’s 22nd Right to Work state yesterday after voters approved a constitutional amendment making it illegal for union officials to force workers to join a union or pay any union dues as a condition of employment.
“Oklahomans reaffirmed what a vast majority of the American people already believe – that no individual should be forced to pay union dues in order to keep his or her job,” said National Right to Work Foundation Vice President Stefan Gleason.
Gleason also vowed the National Right to Work Foundation’s vigilance in making sure that Oklahoma union officials do not violate Oklahoma workers’ rights under the new law. “Union bosses spent $8 million on television and radio ads trying to defeat this referendum. They are not going to take this loss laying down.”
While the National Right to Work Committee continues to build support within the U.S. Congress and several state legislatures for additional Right to Work laws, the Foundation will continue to advance the rights of employees through the nation’s courts.
Additional information on the rights of employees in Right to Work states is available at http://www.nrtw.org/a/a_prime.htm.
NEWPORT, Ky. (September 25, 2001) – A CVS cashier today filed federal charges against a local affiliate of the powerful United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) union for illegally seizing forced union dues without divulging how the money was being spent.
With the assistance of National Right to Work Foundation attorneys, William Manning filed the unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board against UFCW Local 1099.
“Secretive union officials are deliberately preventing workers from learning how their forced union dues are being spent,” said Foundation Director of Legal Information Randy Wanke.
Manning resigned his union membership on June 29, 2001 after independently learning about his right to do so. Union officials had never informed Manning of his right, guaranteed by the landmark Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court CWA v. Beck decision, to become a nonmember and halt the collection of all union dues spent for politics and other activities unrelated to collective bargaining.
When Manning requested to review a copy of the union’s financial records so that he could distinguish the union’s proven collective bargaining costs from politics and other nonchargeable activities, union bureaucrats stonewalled, claiming that his request was “not relevant.”
“What I got back was a letter basically saying that it’s none of my business,” Manning said.
The charges state that union officials refused to provide an audited breakdown of union expenditures, an escrow of fees, and a procedure to challenge the union’s calculations. Under Beck and related Foundation-won precedents, unions must provide workers with full financial disclosure before seizing any forced dues.
Foundation attorneys are demanding that UFCW Local 1099 officials return all dues unlawfully collected from Manning, provide a complete and proper independent audit of their books, and notify all bargaining unit employees of their right to object to union membership and the payment of full dues.